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Silver Wings

© 2000-2001 Strata Drake of NEWST.

Chapter Five: Naught

T minus twenty minutes until detonation. Aireus lunged toward his enemy with his sabre, but the enemy blocked the attack with one of its own, knocking Aireus back with slight damage and counterattacking. Aireus quickly blocked the attack and countered with his laser. As if anticipating the shot, his enemy blocked it with a plate of armor. Aireus' laser beam reflected off of the foe's shield and harmlessly impacted against the ceiling. The enemy countered with a slice from its own weapon--a metal sword like Aireus' own, but a bit larger, sharper, and buzzing with an electric current. Aireus blocked the attack, and in a roll, flipped his enemy over and kicked it towards a wall. It rebounded off of the wall quickly for a second attack. Aireus ducked to the side as it sliced through the air in his direction, and Aireus managed to score a minor hit on his enemy. It landed on its feet and whirled around as Aireus fired another laser burst in its direction, causing minor damage again. It mounted a light-caliber cannon on its right arm and fired at Aireus. Aireus took the hit, and the force of impact sent him into the wall. Aireus countered with a laser blast, but the enemy blocked the shot, reflecting the burst into the ceiling. It charged in Aireus' direction. Aireus jumped over his foe and landed a laser burst into the enemy's backside, right in one of its two shoulder-mounted jump engines. It flipped onto its feet and sliced in Aireus' direction, hitting him in one of the legs with moderate damage. Aireus fell to the floor and tried to get up. His leg, however, did not co-operate. The hit from the electrified blade had paralyzed Aireus's leg, much akin to how Sheridan's EMP missiles had sent the Nova Sky Dragon crashing to the ground months ago. The enemy approached with its cannon loaded, ready, and aimed direcly at Aireus. During this, Aireus got his first good look at this enemy.

It was as though Aireus was fighting a mirror image of himself. His opponent seemed to be a Red Dragon elite combat cyborg, codenamed "Aegis", but its design was less like a typical cyborg and more like Aireus' own--and in fact, Aegis was designed using similar Pre-Collapse technologies. It had an armor-plated shield and a cannon mounted on its left arm, and held an electric blade in its right hand. Its shield was made from a laser-reflective alloy, and had the relative defensive strength of Novadragon armor plates. Its color was of a dark gray--almost black--metal alloy, with stripes of red, a sharp contrast to Aireus' own sky-blue-and-silver color scheme. Compared to Aireus, its attacks were remarkably similar--a projectile weapon for distance combat and a metal blade for short-range combat. However, with an electrical current running through said blade, a hit from that sword would inflict a lot more damage than could otherwise be assumed--and Aireus' disabled leg was affirming this fact.

Aegis cocked its cannon. Seizing upon an opportunity, Aireus reacted quickly and fired a shot directly at Aegis's black visor. It reeled from the hit long enough for Aireus to roll aside and place some distance between them, before it fired its belated shot, which (unsurprisingly) missed. Aireus tried--but failed--to stand back up, his disabled leg forcing him to remain on all fours. Aegis moved closer, sword in hand, and attacked. Aireus blocked the attack with his sword and countered by knocking Aegis aside. Fortunately, Aireus's own sword was not conducive to electricity. Aireus jumped towards the exit; at least his jump engines still worked. Aegis fired a shell towards Aireus, but Aireus evaded it, countered with a laser blast, and hit Aegis in the arm.

T minus fifteen minutes, and counting fast. Aireus's leg came back on-line and responded, albeit slowly because of its damage. With this, Aireus stood back up as Aegis jumped in his direction. Aireus rolled underneath Aegis as it came down upon the ground, sword first, and Aireus countered with a broad sweep of his sabre, slicing through a piece of Aegis's leg armor but little else. Aegis noticed the hit and swung around At Aireus, hitting him with the blunt of its shield and knocking Aireus aside. He stood up as Aegis launched itself towards him again, cannon first this time. Aireus thrust his sabre into Aegis' barrel just before it fired. The disrupted shell exploded in the barrel, causing significant damage to both Aireus and Aegis. At least the blast knocked Aireus closer to the exit, and Aegis farther across the room. Aegis was still getting back up onto its feet while Aireus rolled onto his feet and ran down the hallway towards the generator room. A few security drakes greeted him with fire as he passed the hallway intersection. Aireus returned fire with his laser but otherwise ignored them. They were quick to follow, and so was Aegis, coming up the hall in Aireus' direction. Aireus was about to counter when he noticed that the explosion had knocked his trusty sabre out of his hand. Aireus spotted it, on the far side of the research lab--and Aegis was in the way. Aegis lunged in Aireus's direction. Aireus evaded the attack, and Aegis inadvertently cleaved a security drake in half. Aegis tried again with another slice, hitting Aireus in the shoulders and disabling both of his jump engines. Aireus retreated back towards the research lab, but Aegis cut him off by jumping over him and blocking his way. Aireus fired his laser at Aegis, hitting it right in its visor. Disabled for a moment, Aireus knocked it down and ran back to the research lab to pick up his sabre.

Aireus had barely regained posession of his sabre when Aegis, recovered from the hit, kicked Aireus aside, into one of the few terminals yet untouched by their duel. Aireus found a clear shot and fired at Aegis with his laser. Aegis blocked the shot with the remnants of its armorplated shield (reflecting the blast into the other security drake) and countered with a lunge towards Aireus. It missed by an inch, allowing Aireus to move aside and counter with his sabre, slicking Aegis in one of its arms, but to little effect this time. Aegis swung at Aireus, but he blocked the attack with his sabre and kicked Aegis aside.

T minus ten minutes. Aireus retreated to the entrance of the lab, firing a few laser bursts at Aegis in an effort to keep it at bay. It didn't work for long, though, as Aegis charged in Aireus's direction. Aireus ducked, and being unable to quickly react at that speed, Aegis flew overhead and crashed full-force into the far wall. Aireus gave a quick 'good-bye' to Aegis and fled through the door, back into the hallway and up one level to the first-floor generator.

Somehow, Aegis was waiting for him as Aireus arrived at the generator room. Aegis came down upon Aireus, barely missing him with its sword, and placing a large crack in the metal floor. Aireus fired his laser into the ceiling, trying to dislodge one of the metal rafters. It didn't work (yet), and Aireus' jump engines were still off-line, so plan A would have to wait. Aegis swung at Aireus and knocked him into the generator's console, smashing it. Sparks flew from the console upon impact, giving Aireus an idea. Aegis came closer and thrust his sword at Aireus. But Aireus jumped back, evading it, and Aegis' sword came crashing down into the console, sending a large residual charge of electricity jolting back through Aegis's systems. The shock stunned Aegis, and an electrical burst flung Aegis clear across the room, giving Aireus some time to think about what to do about this opponent.

Aireus's jump engines came on-line just before Aegis recovered from its shock (and the wall), and it looked around for Aireus. By this time, Aireus was nowhere to be seen, having jumped up towards the ceiling and was now kneeling on one of the rafters. Aegis looked around but found no trace of Aireus. To get its attention, Aireus hit Aegis with his laser. That worked. Aegis acknowledged Aireus's location up above and tried to fire its cannon--but that failed, for its cannon was still thoroughly scrapped. Instead, it used its own jump engines to assist a leap upwards towards Aireus's position. It sliced through the rafter in a single attack as Aireus jumped off, landing on the top of the generator. Aireus responded with a laser blast, knocking Aegis down from the ceiling and back to the floor, where it made quite an impression. Aireus jumped upwards, back towards the damaged rafter, and with a slice of his sabre, cut it loose from the ceiling, and it fell down upon Aegis while Aireus jumped towards the broken exit staircase. The rafter created a definite impression upon the floor, inflicting considerable damage upon Aegis, but Aegis showed no signs of tiring as it hefted the broken rafter off of itself and heaved it in Aireus's direction by the broken staircase leading out. The broken rafter hit Aireus high and knocked him down. At least it inflicted less damage upon Aireus than it previously inflicted upon his opponent.

Aireus shoved the rafter aside and fired another laser blast at Aegis, but it deflected the shot with its broken shield, and the reflected burst hit Aireus and inflicted damage. Aireus spun from the blast, but recovered quickly and re-gained his footing. Aireus jumped down towards Aegis, blade first. Aegis blocked the attack, but Aireus's speed caused him to impact Aegis with force, knocking Aegis down into the floor again. Aegis threw Aireus off of itself like a piece of scrap metal. Aireus hit the wall with force, and it took a few moments for him to get back up. By then, Aegis was waiting for him.

T minus five minutes. A base-wide five minute alarm sounded; both Aegis and Aireus recognized that time was running out. Aegis dashed forward at Aireus with unprecedented fury, and Aireus had a difficult time blocking and evading the slices. Aireus was able to get a few laser blasts of his own inserted into the fray, hitting Aegis each time. When Aegis missed Aireus and thrust through a wall, Aireus responded by jumping up towards the exit and cutting another rafter loose from the ceiling. Aegis stepped back and avoided the falling beam, picking it up and tossing it towards Aireus. Aireus backed through the exit door, and the beam was too large to follow, so it hit against the door-frame. Aireus carefully hefted the beam up himself, and dropped it upon Aegis. It flattened Aegis against the ground. Aireus spotted an opportunity to finish off his foe, but his safety perogatives over-rode the decision for him, and Aireus fled through the door and ran back to the surface as the damaged Aegis struggled to remove the metal rafter from on top of itself.

A dangerous power build-up was emerging as Aireus stumbled out the entrance door into the sunlight. Sounds from inside indicated that Aegis was still following, but that sound was soon eclipsed by a massive shockwave and explosion which was not just detectable, but also audible and even visible to the base sensors...ten miles distance through light fog.

Sheridan was not born soon enough to know the nuclear fury of the Collapse, but he knew exactly what the particular sound meant. Nigel was quick to report from his command jet on patrol. "Sheridan! Did you just hear that?!?"

Sheridan sighed. "I heard that all right. It came from the Red Dragon seabase northwards. Rendezvous for me--what just happened?"

Nigel responded. "Just like on the history vids back home. Someone down below decided to blow up their base with their own missiles."

Drake caught Sheridan's attention as he jumped up on the console and looked out the window at the smoke-plume rising in the distance. Sheridan immediately came to realize something horrific: Aireus!

Sheridan punched the console. "Nigel? What about... is Aireus...was he...??"

Nigel responded. "I sure hope not, Sheridan. Shaera can take the boys out and see what they can out there." There was a brief pause. "...Copy that, Phoenix-1, check out the smoke for anything unusual and report, stat."

Sheridan didn't know what to think about the situation. Hopefully, Aireus would have survived the blast, but given the destructive potential of the nuclear missiles, even that was no assurance.

Shaera radioed back to base. "Raiden Leader, come in. Our scans are registering nothing in the blast's vicinity. Not to mention smoke as thick as soup out here. Copy that?"

Sheridan responded back. "...nothing? Keep searching--he's got to be in there!"

Shaera relayed back negatively. "Sorry, but we can't see a thing down there with all this smoke. You'd be better off checking it out yourself, from the ground. 10-4 and out."

Sheridan watched Nigel's VTOL land at Phoenix airfield and Nigel hopped out. Falco radioed in from the docks. "Sheridan; shall we?"

Sheridan radioed Falco. "Shall we what?"

"My men are all set to recover whatever they can from the blast site. A few more minutes and we'll be good to go. Would you like to join us?"

Sheridan shook his head. "Negative, Falco. That is your department. But take the research crew along with you--give them something to do. Over."

Falco responded. "Make that five minutes to departure."

Sheridan looked back out over the sea, almost tear-stricken from the situation. "Keep an eye out for Aireus..."

Falco's group began getting ready for departure. "Roger. We'll bring back as many pieces as we can find."

That comment did not help. Sheridan closed the link as Nigel walked into the room. Nigel looked at Sheridan. "I heard the conversation. It'll be in Falco's hands. In the meantime, what are you going to do?"

Sheridan returned his attention to the radar screen, where four units of Raiden were searching for possible Phantom activity. "I... I suppose I should go check on my boys...." Sheridan called to Drake, then left the room, Drake following him. Nigel looked across the sea as Phoenix-1 and two support jets returned to their pads and landed. Nigel thought out loud. "Given his fighting technique, no Red Dragon security drakes would stand a chance against Aireus. Would they destroy an entire base of their own just to get rid of one foe...?"

Down on ground level, at Raiden garage, Sheridan climbed into his command vehicle and switched on one of the repair drones. Drake quickly seated himself in his spot as Sheridan powered up the tank systems and drove outside into the open. Sheridan relayed the group. "Nearby Raiden units, remain at base for now. I'm going to assist Raidens 5 through 7 with their search."

The answers came back all affirmative as Sheridan taxiied towards and out of their base into the hills to rendezvous with the contingent of his group. His tank scanners could pick up no Phantom activity--but then again, given the Phantom's stealth technology, sensors alone would not be enough--snow-covered scenery would provide flawless camoflauge for silver-colored units.

It took five minutes for Sheridan to catch up with his away group; three Mantis-strength tanks with assorted light weaponry. Sheridan had previously ordered them to carry light calibers just in case they ran into any Phantoms, and to avoid any Red Dragon units. Ever since the skirmish out on the island, where Sheridan met with the enemy Stratos and Scintaros supertanks, the Red Dragon's forces were nowhere on sensors.

Out of the corner of his screen, Sheridan though he saw something move. He turned in that direction, and sure enough, something had moved. Hidden behind a few trees and similarly-colored snowfall, a Phantom sensortank was observing them. Sheridan thought about the situation and relayed an order back to base for air support. Specifically, the order had instructions for a small group of two Phoenix jets to join the search. Sheridan gave as little information as possible over the radio, a precaution against the Phantom observer figuring out what they were up to. Using words such as "may" and "should", Sheridan kept the radio talk in a hypothetical context as he watched the Phantom observer. Sheridan's comrades quickly got the point--a sudden surprise would cause the Phantom unit to flee.

Shaera and one support jet soon arrived from base. While the Phoenix jet stopped to hover, Shaera looked down carefully and spotted the Phantom sensortank. She broke the relative radio silence and shouted across the com channel. "Sheridan! You're being watched!"

The Phantom sensortank took flight. Literally. Rather than finding a ground vehicle, they had stumbled upon an aerial Phantom scout. It lifted off and began flying in the southeast direction. Shaera gave chase, and so did her comrade. Shaera radioed in Sheridan's direction. "Don't worry, this one won't be getting away!"

Sheridan watched as they chased the Phantom sensortank off in the distance. He radioed his group. "Let's follow them!" Abandoning their usual travel routes and cutting fresh trails through the snow, Sheridan's group took the straightest path possible. Shaera was cutting across the terrain in a wavy direction, with her comrade flying mirror; a formation that minimized the chance that the Phantom jet could pull a fast corner and escape.

Sheridan's group kept their speed up as high as they could, and Sheridan charted a course to help intercept their quarry, but everyone knew that it takes a VTOL to chase down another. Somehow, they managed to stay within the same distance of Shaera's jet. After a few miles of chase, the Phantom jet took a surprise dive in altitude into a river canyon.

Shaera, in her jet, almost-instinctively dove after the Phantom jet in chase and pursued it through the river canyon while her comrade followed above. Sheridan recognized the river. Three miles upstream was a large waterfall and a cave behind it. Sheridan ordered his units down to the riverbank. Careful preparations paying off, his comrades' vehicles were equipped with hover engines, and Sheridan quickly made their way upstream in chase.

Three miles later, the Phantom jet dove through the waterfall into the back cave. Shaera braked to a stop right outside the waterfall as her pilot descended to a lower altitude. Within minutes, Sheridan's group drove up, through the waterfall, and into the cave. They had cornered the Phantom unit.

Scanners confirmed that the Phantom unit had de-activated its stealth systems and shut down its engines. Sheridan switched on his tank's lights, and could spot the jet just lying there in the back of the cave like a frightened animal. Shaera landed just inside the cave's mouth with her comrade.

Sheridan radioed the Phantom unit. "Stand down, we are not going to fight." Feeling a bit sheepish, Sheridan stated their case. "We simply want to talk."

No response from the Phantom jet. Sheridan repeated his request. "Phantom unit, respond. We are not here for a fight; we are requesting conversation."

A Phantom energy signature appeared on radar as another Phantom jet--noticeably larger than the cornered recon unit--entered the cave. The Phantom jet landed. As if to hide, the small Phantom jet taxiied behind the large jet. Sheridan received a signal from the Phantom jet. "Stand down." First contact with the Phantom army had been made.

Sheridan climbed out of his command vehicle with Drake and hopped down to the ground. Although Shaera and her comrade remained in their jets, Sheridan's group followed suit, opening their tank hatches and climbing out for a better look. Sheridan noticed a Phantom pilot doing the same, as a military officer in a grey suit climbed down with two comrades and walked their direction.

Sheridan met the officer in the center of the cave. He looked at Sheridan, then at Drake, then back at Sheridan. "You wanted to talk?"

Sheridan responded. "Yes. Project Commander Sheridan, group Raiden leader--"

The Phantom officer interrupted. "No need for introductions, Sheridan. We already know your names and rank."

Sheridan was puzzled for a moment. "Let me guess...tapping into our long-range communications? Gleaning data from our sensors? We figured as much. Who are you to let us do your exploration for you?"

The Phantom officer nodded. "It was a command decision made back home. I'm Officer Mist Walker, Recon branch 7." Walker shook Sheridan's hand. "It is a good thing to be talking face-to-face. Although, I believe it should have been under better circumstances."

Sheridan looked at the officer. "What do you mean by 'better' circumstances?"

"We've kept close tabs on all activity in our area, using both our sensor data and yours. Our commanders thought it was a foolhardy thing for you to try invading the Red Dragon's lair by yourself. But they can't argue with the results, so they authorized a talk with your forces. And here we are."

Sheridan didn't know what Walker was talking about. "What results?"

"You've seen and heard--and are probably examining--that nuclear explosion ten miles off-shore from your base. You took out a Red Dragon underground installation in one shot. That was amazing!"

Sheridan shook his head. "That wasn't us...."

Walker continued. "Furthermore, our commanders determined that establishing contact with your forces would not constitute a breach of our security."

Sheridan still could not understand Walker. "Wha...?"

Walker looked around. "Early reports indicated a soldier named 'Aireus' in your forces. Because Aireus was Pre-Collapse technology, our commanders prohibited all contact with your forces until a later date, such as now. In our campaign against the Red Dragon's installments, they decided that it would be better to sit back and watch your forces from a distance, to see if you were worthy of trust. When we received word that you destroyed the Nova Sea Dragon, they had almost authorized a chat with your forces right then and there. Unfortunately, by the time our men arrived at your base, the Red Dragon had levelled it."

Sheridan looked back. "Exactly as we had planned. We demolished that base ourselves to buy some relief from their forces."

Walker looked at Drake for a moment. "The talk was cancelled when we discovered the Nova Land Dragon near our vicinity. But when we saw the damage you dealt to the Nova Sky Dragon, our commanders indeed authorized a chat with your forces. However, by the time we had arrived, there was literally nothing left of your other base, thanks being to the Nova Sky Dragon. The chat was then cancelled."

Sheridan wasn't exactly fond of that memory. "We lost virtually everything in that battle alone..."

Walker continued. "After that, we caught word that the last Red Dragon surface base was under attack by scavengers--and that the scavengers were winning. Our commanders figured out, right then and there, exactly who had survived what, and they ordered our armies to assist against the Nova Sky Dragon."

Sheridan looked back. "That was about time...there was no way that we could take down the Nova Sky Dragon with scavenger-level technologies."

Walker nodded. "True. Unfortunately, our commanders decided it was better to withdraw after the war. Thus we were unable to--and prohibited from--establishing contact with your forces. They decided to play it safe, and we kept separate from your forces and areas. Until now."

Sheridan was puzzled. "Just like you guys did after the Nova Land Dragon's defeat. You appeared once to help finish the foe off, but then you disappeared afterwards. Makes me wonder exactly why you decided to help out at all."

Walker looked at his timepiece. "There is much more we could negotiate with your forces. However, time is short and we have much work to do." Walker signalled to his two comrades, and they returned to their jet.

Sheridan looked back. "Wait a minute. You're not leaving just yet; is there a way that we can contact you? It's not exactly a cakewalk trying to chase down these stealth units of yours...."

Walker looked back at the small Phantom jet next to his own. "You mean that?" Walker withdrew a small notepad from his uniform, flipped through it, then detached and handed Sheridan a piece of paper. "These should prove useful for your sensors."

Sheridan examined the notes written on the sheet. "I'll give this to our research crew..." Examining it, Sheridan noticed one of the symbols scrawled upon it. "Is that small jet a drone?"

Walker nodded. "Affirmative. It's much faster and more responsive than a piloted jet, not to mention less risk. And it wouldn't have been possible without the FRB chips our teams recovered from the larger ruins."

Sheridan looked down at Drake. "So, is that how...?" Sheridan looked back at Walker. "Same chips our boys used to make Drake here."

Walker squinted to examine Drake. "Hmmm...." He looked back at Sheridan. "At any rate, I must be continuing my mission."

Sheridan looked back as Walker began heading back to his jet. "When can we contact you again?"

Walker shouted back. "Don't bother. We'll contact you."

With no more word, Walker climbed back into his jet and powered up. He lifted off and hovered out of the cave and waterfall, with the Phantom drone following him. Within moments, they flew off under cover of stealth and camoflauge.

Sheridan walked back to his tank. "At least one good thing can come of that missile explosion...." After climbing back into the pilot's seat with Drake, Sheridan radioed his group. "All right people, mission accomplished. Let's head back." Sheridan's comrades climbed back into their tanks, powered up, and followed Sheridan as he led the way back out of the cave, to the river. Shaera and her comrade followed suit. As soon as they cleared the waterfall, Shaera relayed Sheridan. "Raiden Leader, we'll take the express route. See you when you get back home..."

Sheridan nodded as he led his group downstream to the canyon's entrance point, and from there back the way they came. It took a full twenty minutes to arrive within sight of home base. No other Phantom sightings, no Red Dragon encounters, not even any stray missile silos occupied the way back. Just falling snow, hills, and trees.

Upon arrival, Sheridan noticed that Falco's group was still away. Parking his tank only long enough for him to deliver Walker's notes to the research crew for examination, Nigel debriefed Sheridan about the situation. No activity to speak of at all, and Falco's group was still busy performing salvage. Sheridan told Nigel that he would go help out with Falco's operation across the waters. Nigel suggested that Sheridan take along a few VTOL carrier jets in case they found any extra cargo to bring back, and Sheridan agreed to it. After climbing back into his tank, Nigel instructed two VTOL pilots to respond to Sheridan and Falco's instructions. That they would do.

Sheridan led his comrades and the two carrier jets northwards, towards Falco's position. It took a few minutes to arrive. The smoke from the blast was clear, radiation levels were almost nonexistent--and so was the island. The nuclear explosion had created a significant crater where the island had previously stood. Debris was floating everywhere, and Falco's team was still scurrying about trying to recover as many bits as possible. It wasn't easy, either. The more-metallic debris was sunken perhaps twenty feet underneath the water, meaning that Falco's men had to dive underwater, attach magnetic grapples to the cargo, then fish it up to determine if it was worth keeping or not.

Sheridan instructed the two pilots two get in touch with Falco's team for further instructions. Falco directed them to his divers, and in a minute, the VTOL carriers were also helping out to fish up debris from the ex-island. Much of the smaller debris was being loaded in with Falco's group, but as the debris accumulated, the two VTOL pilots began filling their cargo holds with as much debris as they could safely fly home.

Sheridan radioed Falco. "Any word?" Falco responded back. "Hard to say. There's debris, there's Debris, and then there's absolute scrap metal. It's hard to determine exactly what we're looking for, compared to what we're fishing up. They're doing their best to sort it out here, but we're going to run out of room sooner or later."

Sheridan kept watching as the VTOL pilots filled up the last of their cargo space with salvaged debris, and Falco's recovery men quit diving for more and climbed back into their cockpits. Falco called back to Sheridan. "We're done here. Heading back..."

Sheridan nodded, while Falco led the way, Sheridan followed behind with his group and the two carrier VTOLs.

Falco's men transported the debris to their reclamation center as soon as the group arrived back home. Sheridan was quick to climb out of his tank to personally see what had been recovered, and Drake predictably followed him. The research crew, having helped Falco's team identify what types of debris they had fished up, was now helping to organize and examine the debris.

As Falco helped with the distribution, Sheridan walked around, scanning the piles of debris for anything familiar. Glancing across the piles, Sheridan fished out a piece of metal, forged of a stainless titanium alloy. Sheridan recognized it as Aireus's blade. Hope rose for a moment. Sheridan asked one of the research crew members if any of the piles contained parts that could belong to Aireus.

The research crew member pointed Sheridan to one of the bins, which was slightly filled with large servos and joint mechanisms that presumably had belonged to Red Dragon security drakes, identifiable by their red color. Another bin contained similar parts, but being mostly blue instead of red.

Sheridan realized the gravity of the situation when he examined this bin. Of the pieces that survived the nuclear explosion, there wasn't enough Aireus to make a toaster.


(click and drag to reveal answers)

Is Aireus truly dead, or just "mostly dead"??

Sorry, but I can not spoil the answer to this question for you. I may reveal the answer in future chapters.

Do you know from where I made officer Walker's name?

This is a tribute so well-hidden that few readers (even NEWST members) may ever notice it on their own. The name "Mist Walker" I compose from a past NEWST member named MystStalker, who is unfortunately, no longer on this earth. He is mentioned in the NEWST Team's acknowledgements on our home page.